Category Archives: House

Democrats Cheer Virginia Redistricting Decision; VA-3 to be Redrawn

June 10, 2015 — Last October, an Eastern District of Virginia special three-judge panel declared VA District 3 (Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Richmond/ Norfolk) unconstitutional. According to the ruling, the draw packed African Americans, thereby diluting the black community’s influence in other districts even though the map was constructed to the dictates of the Voting Rights Act and previous court decisions.

The Republican appeal went to the US Supreme Court, which in turn sent the congressional plan back to the court of origination in order to determine the next course of action. The Supreme Court is using an Alabama state legislative case to chart new ground in relation to minority district redistricting and appears to be returning maps from cases before them back to the lower courts with instructions to add specifics.

The federal Virginia panel took action late last Friday and sent the map to the legislature with instructions to re-draw the 3rd District. As is the case with all redistricting, changes to one CD will affect at least two and possibly several districts. Most likely, Rep. Randy Forbes (R) will find his 4th District significantly changed, much to his chagrin.
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Successor Elected to MS-1

June 3, 2015 — Alcorn County Prosecuting Attorney and Iraq War veteran Trent Kelly (R), as expected, easily won the northern Mississippi special MS-1 congressional election last night to succeed the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R). The three-term congressman passed away in early February.

Kelly racked up approximately 70 percent of the vote against former Jackson mayoral aide Walter Zinn, Jr, (D). He won the endorsement of Rep. Nunnelee’s widow in the May 12 jungle primary helping him qualify for yesterday’s run-off election, and claimed 20 of the district’s 22 counties last night. He will immediately be sworn in, and serve the remainder of the current term. Rep-Elect Kelly will assuredly seek a full two-year term in the regular 2016 cycle.

The 1st District occupies Mississippi’s northern quadrant and houses the south Memphis (TN) suburbs, and the Tupelo and Columbus areas. Special election turnout unofficially tallied 98,254 voters, but the final canvass could produce totals closer to 100,000.

Zinn had little chance. With virtually no money, in a next to hopeless political minority, and spending his career in politics well away from the 1st District in the state’s capital city of Jackson, it was a foregone conclusion that Kelly would be victorious when he topped a field of 11 other Republican candidates in the May vote.

Only one House vacancy remains, that in IL-18, the seat then-Rep. Aaron Schock (R) resigned in March. A replacement will be chosen in September. The House now stands at 246 Republicans, 188 Democrats, with the one vacancy.

MS-1 Underway Today

June 2, 2015 — The vacant northern Mississippi congressional district (Tupelo, Columbus, Memphis suburbs) will be filled today, as special run-off participants Trent Kelly (R) and Walter Zinn, Jr. (D) do battle in the secondary election.

The race shouldn’t be much of a contest. The 1st CD is heavily Republican and campaign resources greatly favor Kelly, the Alcorn County Prosecuting Attorney and Iraq War veteran who outpaced 11 other Republicans in the May 12 jungle primary. Zinn is the lone Democrat who filed, hence he was able to place first in the badly fractured field despite spending only $9,000 on his primary campaign effort.

Harper Polling released a survey of the race (May 28; 509 likely MS-1 voters), finding Republican Kelly with a big lead, as predicted. According to HP, the local Republican prosecutor would top the former Jackson Democratic mayoral aide 54-37 percent. This should translate into a victory margin approaching, if not breaking, the 60 percent threshold.

The district was left vacant in early February when three-term Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R) passed away. Filling this district tonight will mean only one vacancy remains, that being the IL-18 seat of resigned-Rep. Aaron Schock (R) who won’t be replaced until September.

Tonight’s winner fills the remainder of the current term and is eligible to seek re-election in the 2016 regular cycle.

The Hidden Reason Why McCain is
Being Challenged in Arizona

May 28, 2015 — A surprising story broke in Arizona Tuesday. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) announced that she will forego her re-election bid and instead challenge Sen. John McCain (R) next year. The congresswoman was included on most “possible candidate” lists, but was not viewed as someone overtly planning to make the jump into the statewide contest. Her move, however, may be a precursor to another decision that will soon enter the public domain.

With McCain’s approval numbers dropping into the dangerously low category (36:51 percent favorable to unfavorable according to Public Policy Polling), Kirkpatrick’s move is not without political reason. The latest PPP survey (May 1-3; 600 registered Arizona voters) finds her trailing the senator only 36-42 percent, certainly suggesting that such a general election pairing would yield a competitive contest.

But, the driving force behind Kirkpatrick may not be McCain’s perceived vulnerability. Rather, since the US Supreme Court is poised to soon render a decision on the Arizona redistricting challenge, it may be this issue that is actually motivating Kirkpatrick to move forward.

The Arizona Republicans are challenging the state’s congressional map on the grounds that the US Constitution only gives federal redistricting power to state legislatures. Before the 2000 reapportionment, voters adopted a ballot proposition that created a redistricting commission empowered to draw congressional and state legislative lines. The crux of the suit argues that a citizens’ commission has no authority to draw congressional lines.
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Mississippi Special Election Results

May 13, 2015 — A group of 87,302 individuals went to the polls yesterday to choose a replacement for the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Tupelo) who passed away in early February. Featuring 13 candidates, none with a particularly huge advantage over the others, a close result was expected. Proceeding to a secondary run-off election was viewed as a certainty. Both prognostications proved true.

Former Jackson mayoral aide Walter Zinn, the only Democrat in the huge field, placed first, even though he spent only $9,000 on his campaign and has no base in the district. The city he served, Mississippi’s capital city, is located in the 3rd Congressional District. Attracting just over 15,000 voters (17 percent), which may represent the last vestiges of the partisan group once described as “yellow dog Democrats”, Zinn was able to top the field. But, this means advancing to a June 2 run-off and what will likely be almost certain defeat at the hands of a Republican candidate.

Zinn’s opponent will be Alcorn County District Attorney and Iraq War veteran Trent Kelly (R), who finished 896 votes behind, equivalent to a 16 percent preference. Kelly ran very strong in the seven counties he represents as District Attorney, which was enough to propel him to second place, some three percent ahead of his next closest rival, state Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert (R). Because of the recent Republican voting history here, Kelly becomes a prohibitive favorite next month. Though Democrat Zinn placed first before this crowded field, 83 percent of the voters chose a Republican candidate.

The 1st District covers 22 northern Mississippi counties. The three population centers are the Memphis suburban communities just south of the Tennessee border, Tupelo, and Columbus. The region gave Mitt Romney 62 percent of its votes in 2012. Rep. Nunnelee, first elected in 2010 defeating incumbent Travis Childers (D), scored a 68 percent re-election victory last November.